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Soccer: West topples Mill Creek to reach Elite 8
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West Forsyth junior Tori DellaPeruta sprints with the ball Monday during the Wolverines' 2-1 win against Mill Creek. - photo by David Roberts

HOSCHTON — West Forsyth is making a habit out of turning the undefeated into the defeated.

The Wolverines' Sweet 16 matchup against second-ranked Mill Creek on Monday was no different.

Tori DellaPeruto scored two goals, Haylee Dornan was excellent in goal and West handed the Hawks their first loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat propelling the Wolverines into the Elite Eight.

Mill Creek is one of six teams to have its first loss come at the hands of West, joining Creekview, Gainesville, Johns Creek, Sequoyah and St. Pius X.

"I feel like that was a championship-caliber game," Dornan said. "They're a very good team and they fought for it and so did we. We just came out on top."

Dornan was key in preserving West's one-goal lead despite a late barrage of chances inside the Wolverines' third of the field. 

Her save off a Mill Creek throw-in with 4:10 remaining marked the Hawks' last chance until Arianna Manrique's shot in front of goal sailed just wide of the net with 20 seconds remaining.

On another occasion, Cowart twice charged out of goal to slide feet first and knocked the ball away. Seconds later she came up with a save on a Mill Creek corner.

"If she's not the best athlete in the state, then definitely in the county," West coach Jason Galt said. "Just unbelievable saves tonight that she had in goal. She's the quarterback in [flag] football and she's the same way on the soccer field."

Meanwhile, DellaPeruta provided all of the offense West needed.

Her first goal came on a beautifully placed shot, where she drew the keeper up the left side and squeezed it past her and around the near post. 

"I looked up to see if my player was there to cross it," DellaPeruta said. "I looked near post and the keeper was in the middle of the goal, so I knew with my left foot I had her beat near post, and I just hit it as hard as I can. It was amazing."

DellaPeruta doubled the Wolverines' lead early in the second half when she converted a penalty kick five minutes after halftime.

Tori DellaPeruta Penalty Kick

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West's two-goal lead held until the 14:15 mark, when Morgan Amrozowicz finished a cross from Savannah Singleton to make it 2-1.

Between then and DellaPeruta's penalty kick, West had plenty of chances to increase its lead.

Rachel Hale had a shot hit the right side of the net after Mill Creek failed to clear a corner, Bennett Beisbier served up a perfect pass to DellaPeruta but couldn't finish, then DellaPeruta had a free kick from 31 yards out curving inside the near post but had it snatched by Mill Creek's keeper.

"I'm surprised that we didn't score more goals, because that's what we do is score goals. We've got girls who can just put it away," Galt said. "I mean, you've got Tori who's got 49 goals right now. So, hopefully we're hosting next Tuesday. Hopefully she'll get that 50th goal in that third-round game. And it's not just Tori, too."

West played without Emily Woodall for much of the match after the Wolverines' sophomore midfielder was carried of the field three minutes into the game.

Sarah Harrell entered the game after the injury and played a key role in the win.

"She's been a significant part of this team for three years, and she's played a lot of soccer for us," Galt said. "Emily is a sophomore, and sometimes as a coach you've got to make that decision, and Emily's earned that starting spot. With her going down, Bama's right back in it again. I'm proud of her for not ever giving up and not getting frustrated about not playing."

West will face Parkview on May 4 with a trip to the Class 7A semifinals on the line.

"This is why you coach and this is why players play, for games like this. It felt like the state championship. It really did," Galt said. "You've got the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the state playing each other to the wire. The best part, of course, is that we won. The worst part is that one of these two teams had to go home in the second round. That shouldn't happen. Hopefully, we're going to get things fixed as far as that goes with rankings and everything, because the No. 2 and No. 3 teams shouldn't play each other in the second round."